Monday, February 28, 2011

Dekalb Coaling Tower Circa 1900

Got a phone call late at night over the weekend from Gilbert Sebenste saying he was heading out in the freezing drizzle to stand outside for a couple hours. How can one refuse an offer such as that? The goal was to check out an observing park on the Union Pacific line in the industrial region of southwest DeKalb. My cabin fever is about off the charts right now, so I accepted his offer. Immediately this old coal tower caught my attention and I was in love. I don't know what it is about really old stuff, but that abandoned house I shot last week, and now this old massive structure along the rail line that was probably built around 1900 are just so fun to shoot. They really do all the work for you.

Looking east down the UP line toward Chicago with the awesome old structure in the center. Hard to believe that thing was built around 1900 and is still in structurally magnificent condition. They just don't build things like they used to!


Probably the best graffiti I have ever seen. After thinking about it I could have sworn I had seen this before. I came home and 'googled it' and found out that it is in fact based on a sketch by comedian Demitri Martin.


Train coming westbound now with his high beams illuminating the freezing drizzle. This was the only shot that I had that wasn't screwed up by all the tiny water droplets on my lens.

Going eastbound now.
The best part of the night came at the end. About half an hour before I had spotted this coyote running around by the lake on the other side of the trees. We watched him for a while before we lost sight of him. Well, just as we are packing up to head home he comes into view. He was checking us out slowly as we watched him. He held still long enough that I wondered if there was any way I could get a halfway decent photo of him. I slowly switched from my wide angle 10-20mm to my crappy 18-55 kit lens. He was still behind some bushes and a good distance away so I slowly and quietly crept back down into the clearing where I had a nice open shot of him and set up my tripod. Low and freaking behold, he just comes trotting over like my own dog would do in our backyard. It was the damndest thing. He came to a stop about 15-20 feet away and just began posing for the camera. I was working incredibly fast because I didn't know how long he would hold still, and that combined with the crappy lens led to a terrible quality photo - but you can definitely get a nice view of this amazing little guy.

I run into coyotes all the time in doing my night photography sessions, but never in those times have I had one just come jogging over to me. Coolest and momentarily very intimidating. As I stood looking through my lens as he jogged over toward us I quietly asked Gilbert if we should perhaps be moving the other direction.


While shooting his photo, we caught the attention of one of the DeKalb police officers. He pulled up in the parking lot and shined his hand lamp over on us and watched for a few minutes. It was pretty obvious what we were doing (and probably best that we weren't near the tracks anymore) and he eventually left.

That's when we caught view of the coyote again! He had now wandered out onto the ice and was giving a flock of geese some fits! They were sitting safely in a melted patch of water, but the coyote trotted around the flock as if to say that they better not venture to solid ground or he'll be catching a late dinner.

Probably one of the most bizarre night photo outings I have had and only had to travel a mile away from home. Being so close, I can definitely see myself biking out there a few nights this spring to play around with some new angles. Since I will likely only be in DeKalb for another year as I finish up my B.S. I want to get out and explore the town so I can say I've seen it. There seems to be a ton of history hidden around town (that big coal hopper for example) mostly related to the railroads. I figured a fun way to check out the city before I leave would be to just head out on my bike and ride around in a new area each time and photograph the neat little things that I find. Once I'm done with school here, there will probably be no real reason for me to come back to this town very often, so it will be a neat way to explore it and take some cool photos back with me.

2 comments:

Kurt said...

Thanks. Nice pictures and well written. Makes you wonder how dog met man so long ago. Was it a little what you experienced?
Railroads have become increasingly sensitive about folks on their property so avoid actually being on their property. They do call the police.
Good luck with DeKalb history. There are always interesting things everywhere you go .
Great photos... Thanks
Kurt Haubrich

Dann Cianca said...

Awesome photos, man... and that Dmitri Martin sketch is funny... so awesome that someone tagged that.